Last weekend, I caught up with Sylwia Presley, in-between her preparations for the Oxford Twestival. She's one of the organizers of BarCamp Transparency Oxford 09, editor for Global Voices, and a social media / word of mouth ethics consultant for 1000Heads.
Our topic? How can the University Lives Collection reach out to students worldwide, and how might the way we set up the project affect our reach?
We had a great conversation about motivations. The people who submit videos will be people who take pride in their communities, who are looking for PR and poularity, who think the prizes are cool, whose professors are suggesting they submit videos, and who are driven to spread their viewpoints. In addition, we need to be aware of the the organisations and governments of which our participants are a part. Sylwia had some great ideas on how to make the site acceptable to such a wide range of groups while keeping our own integrity.
This led us to the question of censorship, moderation, and permission. This is an ongoing conversation for us, and Sylwia's experience with Global Voices and cyber activism will help us take into account the needs and risks of content producers. We want to be as open as possible, but we also want people to stay on-topic and will frown on inflammatory content.
As a result, we think we can probably open up the platform more than we initially expected, allowing people to post, comment, and vote on videos. We expect that there will be an approval / moderation arrangement for new videos, but we still have to work out the details ineternally and with Automattic.
We are definitely going to offer prizes, and there will be a way to vote for videos you like. We want to be careful however, to avoid getting Colbertized. So no details on the voting system have been decided yet.
Sylwia asked if we will accept videos from faculty. Our answer? That would be great! - though we will focus our limited marketing resources on students.
She was also wondering what countries we want to be involved. The short answer is 'as many as possible', but we have only so many people. Consequently, we're going to pick a few regions to focus on; for other regions, we're going to look for organisations or new volunteers/promoters to do the advertising for us.
We also talked about language and subtitling. We had initially planned to accept videos only in languages known by our team. Sylwia convinced us that we should accept videos in any language, so long as they're subtitled in English. JBL thinks we should be even more open than that, so we still have some deciding to do.
Even though we are already familiar with social media and online publishing, Sylwia has done a great job helping us think through important issues and make good plans. We're looking forward to more strategy conversations in the future.
For now, we're focusing on getting the initial marketing site up, fitting our visual designs into the technology, and organising our fabulous volunteers for what is going to be a huge marketing campaign.
if you would like to help out the World University Project or can suggest ideas or contacts for the University Lives Collection, please contact planning [at ] worlduniversityproject [ dot] org